ICS Vortex – Storm Seeker

Categories: Reviews
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Published on: August 11, 2011

Simen Hestnæs, better known under his stage monniker ICS Vortex, is a well known figure in the Norwegian metal scene. Besides his stint with Dimmu Borgir, he’s seen action with Lamented Souls, Borknagar and Arcturus. After his tumultuous departure from Dimmu Borgir, he rejoined Borknagar and Arcturus and he set out to work on his first solo record, entitled Storm Seeker. Let’s see how his latest venture turned out.

For the recording of Storm Seeker he enlisted the talents of Asgeir Mickelson (drums) and Terje “Cyrus” Andersen to lay down some guitar solos. The vocals, rhythm guitars and bass are handled by Simen himself. The song material on this album is quite an eclectic mix of black metal, stoner rock, progressive rock and folk. This makes Storm Seeker an interesting, yet somewhat disjointed, listening experience.

Simen’s signature vocals really shine on the more intricate tracks like, “The Blackmobile”, “Odin’s Tree”, “Aces” and the folky title track. These are also the strongest compositions on the album. There are some small traces of his former musical endeavors here and there, but don’t expect anything remotely close to Dimmu Borgir or Arcturus. Unfortunately, this record has its less glamorous moments as well. Skoal! is a rather sad attempt at a drinking song and Simen’s vocals don’t work particularly well within the proggy/stoner rock context of “Dogsmacked”. The album’s closing track is a rather annoying rehash of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. “When Shuffled Off” and “Oil In Water” are as solid as they come.

The production chores are skillfully handled by Borge Finstad, Asgeir Mickelson and Simen himself. The sound reminds me a somewhat of Borknagar’s Quintessence.

Storm Seeker is first and foremost an interesting journey through Simen’s musical influences. It’s a pretty solid record as well, although it does suffer from some weaker moments. I wouldn’t call Storm Seeker an essential purchase, but it’s still good clean fun nonetheless.

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